Proper use of conventions allow text to be read and understood with ease. Readability of text is enhanced. The mechanics of writing include punctuation, spelling, and grammar. Conventions are tools writers use to clarify and guide readers to understand text. Using a mentor text to teach conventions allows students to see that conventions add complexity to writing by communicating information with the effects intended by the writer.
Students begin this lesson by watching the video of ▶ Diary of a Worm. I ask students to pay attention to the spelling and punctuations as the narrator reads aloud showing the pages on the video. I review that the author shows grammatically correct writing and that this is a good mentor text to follow.
Then, we begin to view my Conventions Flip Chart. This flip chart contains greater detail of the conventions of writing. We discuss how writing and speaking are interrelated. I ask students how punctuation determines how we read. Thus, we begin the discussion on the purpose of conventions. Students begin to realize that punctuation imitates speech by determining inflections, pauses, inflections, etc.
This activity focuses on strengthening conventions of print. Students will practice finding and correcting errors in punctuations. I provide guidelines for students. First, I distribute Punctuation Rules. Students are given opportunity to complete sentences that require Periods and Capitalization practice and punctuate sentences correctly by completing a Ending Punctuation practice. Although this task seems basic and simplistic, students must internalize basic grammar and conventions rules, and this is one of the few occasions in teaching where repetition and drilling can help. This may be a tedious process, but students need lots of practice.
Once students complete the conventions practice exercise, I ask them to correct each other's paper. They switch papers with a partner. Before giving he answer key, I ask each partner to give feedback of errors and corrections they would like to share with their partners.
As students shared their feedback from their partners, they also have opportunities to explain why they chose the specific punctuation to complete their sentences. They review the punctuation guide and explain their reasons for their choices. Understanding he purpose of a concept is necessary for students to gain ownership of this activity. Logical reasoning is involved when making choices of which punctuation mark makes sense in a sentence.
Students gain ownership when they understand the purpose of learning. In this case, students not only learn that correct punctuation is necessary in writing for good grades, but they also gain the deeper understanding that punctuation imitates speech and makes our writing clearer. It shows where readers pause between words, tone of voice, and inflections; it affects meaning. This is the true concept that students should understand once they realize that speaking, listening, writing, and reading are interrelated. Students share this knowledge when they begin discussing Conventions of print.